09 Sep 2020 18:45 IST

Life after Tiktok: How are influencers adapting to the Chinese app ban?

Content creators will have to keep expanding their social media presence to extend their shelf life

When 24-year-old dancer and denizen of Dubai Nidhi Kumar, realised that most of the comments on her TikTok videos were in Hindi and other Indian regional languages, she decided to move back to Mumbai in a bid to live and work in closer proximity to her followers. Once back to her home ground, Nidhi conducted Bollywood and Hip Hop dance workshops that turned out to be rather lucrative, thanks to the 1.2 million followers she had garnered on TikTok over time. However, fate and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, had other plans for Nidhi and several other Indian Tiktok influencers like her.

 

Emergence of the new lookalike apps

Citing the “emergent nature of threats” stemming from certain apps of Chinese origin ranging from Shein to Tiktok to CamScanner, the Centre banned 59 apps from the Indian app market on the eve of June 29, 2020. In light of this rather unceremonious ban, influencers have had to quickly adapt to other means of connecting with their followers without losing momentum.

While India accounted for about a third of the total download volume of Tiktok, a lot of indigenous apps such as Mitron TV, Roposo, Bolo Indya, Trell and Chingari came forward to fill the void left behind by Tiktok in our phones' internal storage. Sharechat launched its own short video-based platform Moj while Zee5 announced the launch of a content creation app namely HiPi. Meanwhile, Germany based Dubsmash and US-based Triller are also attempting to leverage this massive playing field.

Content formats now explored by influencers

 

The Indian app Roposo launched in 2014, the oldest app in this category, is currently leading the pack with 65 million downloads as of July. Even so, Indian influencers have gone back to the basics for the most part. The influencer marketing report 2020 showed that most influencers are becoming increasingly active on Instagram after the TikTok ban.

 

Similar to how Instagram managed to create the Stories feature as a Snapchat knockoff, it is back at it again with the Reels feature to lock horns with TikTok. Instagram Reels, Facebook Thumbstoppers, IGTV Live, are just some of the means through which influencers are continuing to create and post content online, to connect with their followers and endorse brands.

 

Extending shelf life

While Instagram's Reels is nowhere close to a perfect replica of the late Tiktok, it does manage to capture the essence of a short-form video platform. Instagram Reels has features that help regulate speed, apply special effects, set a timer, and add audio. While Reels may not have all the features as Tiktok did, it does have a much wider reach than Tiktok did. For instance, Instagram has designed reels with “entertainment” at its core owing to which, there is a dedicated hub for Reels on Instagram’s explore page. According to Robby Stein, Instagram's Product Director, more than 50 per cent of people use Instagram’s explore page in a month. This is a feature that influencers have quickly caught on to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media isn't just a platform meant to share a meme or bag a few likes on posts from a recent trip to Bali. It has, in fact, become the one-stop solution whether it is to learn stock trading, blend your eyeshadow, shop trinkets and much more. The kind of content we consume and the way we consume it is in a state of perpetual evolution.

Influencers must be well aware of this volatile nature of their means of living and constantly be on the look out for newer ways to diversify their social media presence. The key is to not fully depend on an external factor to continue making a living, to extend your shelf life and reap the best benefits from the digital world.

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